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Kawhi Leonard ‘like Maximus coming again because the gladiator’ in triumphant Raptors return

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was described as “Maximus coming again because the gladiator” by coach Doc Rivers as he made a triumphant return to Toronto on Wednesday.

Leonard obtained his championship ring in his first sport again in Toronto since opting to hitch the Clippers in free company after he had impressed the Canadian franchise to its first NBA title. The Raptors welcomed him again with a tribute video, and he was greeted by former teammates and coaches within the heart of the court docket, receiving a constructive reception from the house crowd.

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Leonard went on to attain 23 factors, including six assists and 5 rebounds because the Clippers received, 112-92, to maneuver to 19-7, whereas the defending champion Raptors dropped to 16-Eight.

Rivers praised the Raptors for the way they obtained Leonard and was sure the often-reserved NBA Finals MVP had been touched by the event.

“It is like Maximus coming again because the gladiator,” Rivers stated simply earlier than tipoff. “He was the champion and simply did the whole lot honorably and the fitting means. I used to be joking earlier that may be a fantastic intro.”

After the victory, Rivers added: “Some gamers simply do not allow you to in. However I can inform you that ovation, to him, was very heartfelt. There isn’t any doubt about that. It meant rather a lot to him.

“I assumed what the Raptors did total — the video, the gamers popping out, all of them who performed with him — that is the very best that I’ve seen since I have been within the league. That is a extremely stylish transfer by the group after which by the followers as nicely.”

Kyle Lowry offered Leonard’s ring and the 2 gamers shared a second admiring the souvenir that accommodates over 640 diamonds.

“I used to be joking with him and simply displaying him that the ring was good and prefer it was shining too vibrant — we have been laughing,” Leonard stated, in keeping with ESPN. “Reminiscences in all probability simply ran by our heads. So far as profitable a championship, it just about has come full circle now, having the ability to get the ring and see the place the laborious work got here from.

“Nevertheless it’s greater than that. It is only a journey. For me, so far as enjoying for town, the chapter coming closed as soon as I came to visit with the Clippers, however I nonetheless love town. These guys on the workforce, the gamers, the teaching workers, I nonetheless have love for them and want them the very best.”

Requested in regards to the video tribute and followers’ response when he obtained his ring, Leonard stated: “It was nice, it was a fantastic second. They did a fantastic job placing it collectively, having all of the gamers on the market that received with me, standing there and presenting the ring. It simply form of places you again in these spots once you have been on the ground, or the locker room speak going into the sport, and after the sport watching these highlights.

“It was a particular season for us, for me and for the entire metropolis and nation. I am simply glad we have been in a position to win. It was a blessing.”

The Clippers misplaced Patrick Beverley to a concussion, whereas Pascal Siakam had a game-high 24 factors for the Raptors, who’ve now misplaced 4 of their final 5 video games.

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